An industry manager who left his white-blue, silver-shimmering world of car bodywork and dove into the pitch-black, mysterious world of architecture for the first time during a competition asked me one day: “Ms Rau, why do architects actually wear black?” Although I was wearing black and I am an architect I didn’t have a spontaneous answer, so I responded: “Ask the other architects!” That was in 2001, and it is why this small book came to be. I have asked the question at an international level and whenever it seems appropriate ever since. The sometimes amusing and other times programmatic or hair-splitting answers I have received over the last seven years are listed chronologically in this little black volume. Read, and please, don’t ask me why architects wear black! – Cordula Rau, 22. 02. 2008
Architects wearing black is a stereotype on par with architects wearing black, plastic-frame spectacles. Most architects don’t abide by these fashion recipes, but if somebody outside the profession comes across just one architect fitting the Corbusian mold then, alas, all architects must do the same. That Le Corbusier’s and Philip Johnson’s proclivities for a certain attire has trickled down to numerous enough architects to become a popular stereotype — and not Frank Lloyd Wright’s cane and pork pie hat — is evidenced by this small book that asks architects, “Why do architects wear black?” Packaged in a small, sketchbook-size format are a hundred or so answers to that question, one response per spread with the original handwritten answer opposite the typed, translated text and the name of the architect, designer or draftsman. Spanning seven years, the answers reveal as much about the personalities as they do about the question itself.
The decision by Cordula Rau — an “industry manager who left his white-blue, silver-shimmering world of car bodywork and dove into the pitch-black, mysterious world of architecture” and was asked that very question shortly after such leap — to retain the handwritten responses is an important one. Not only does it reveal the answer in the original language (and in some instances revealing incorrect translation, even from English to English!), it lets the reader dapple in the realm of graphology, to see what the cursive, the composition, the white spaces, the messiness (or cleanliness) of the writing reveals about the architect. Only a few include doodles, surprising for a profession that uses drawings more than text to describe ideas. Many of the responses are simply one short sentence; in some cases they are only one word (“Green” in one case, “Fear” in another). Answers range from the enigmatic to straightforward, personal reasons for wearing or not wearing black. Certain strands of thought can be discovered while flipping through the book: black is a (non-)color that allows other colors to stand out, black is an easy choice, black is fashionable, black is tragic, that question is false.
“In order not to be seen at night…”
“No design is no colour is black”
“I also wonder why everyone wears black. Nowadays I’m trying to wear bright colors, but today I’m all in black by accident. What a pity!!”.
molte immagini http://www.stylepark.com/en/news/no-fear-of-the-men-in-black/286817